Do we need faith in order to have morality/meaning/purpose in our lives and societies?

(Patrick ) #1

I don’t see theology solving any issues of today. Theology has always been more of a hindrance to any solution. Science will continue to make progress that increases life expectancy, cure diseases, improve living conditions. Theology is now as impotent as ever to do much of anything.

Time and Eternity: A Christological Perspective | The BioLogos Forum
Time and Eternity: A Christological Perspective | The BioLogos Forum
Using Scripture to Interpret Science
(Roger A. Sawtelle) #2

This will do little good when people continue to kill each other by wars around the world. Science and technology is being used for ill when it falls into the hands of people governed by bad theology.

Bad Theology has managed to create conflict throughout the world which can kill more and more people thanks to science and technology.

There is good theology and bad theology.

“Science” is not going to help solve the theology problem as long as it treats all theology as bad, as the enemy.

Theology is not helping either as long as it makes all theism good, rather than distinguish between good and bad theology.

(Patrick ) #3

Yes, you can use the same science to make nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs. But killings in war has actual gone down over the past 70 years. Nuclear annihilation has actually been a deterrent for large scale wars. Wars of this centuries, have just a handful of casualties. As the planets gets globally economically interconnected, war is “too expensive” even to the victor. Science and technology will still be used for both good and bad purposes - ala cyber attacks Morality will continue to change as will Human Rights. These changes will dramatically change the world and very quickly. Theology won’t be able to keep up. I much rather be alive in 2015 than 1915 or 1815 or 100,000 years ago. 2115 will be a great time to be alive.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #4


Thank you for your response.

I would agree with you if you made this statement about the nature of war before 9/11/2001.

The nature of war and conflict has changed and is now more local and brutal, as evident limited but very real wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Congo, and Ukraine.

The biggest thing is that conservative Islam has decided it does not want all the benefits of Science if it means changing its way of life. Maybe materialism really are not everything.

And then we have climate change. Ecology suggests that humans must sacrifice some of their creature comforts now to preserve the planet for the future. That is not a question of knowledge. That is a question of values, which is the realm of faith, rather than science as you agree.

Certainly people have not been able to keep up with technological changes, however many people have found that technological progress does not lead to way to moral and intellectual progress, as much as we would like it to.

To put all one’s eggs in one basket is not a good strategy, esp. when science believes that the world is not rational and people are basically selfish
Here is definitely where theology and science need to work together, instead of feuding. I see that it is the energy companies who are certainly not scientifically illiterate which are fighting environmentalism the hardest.

(Patrick ) #5

The nature of war has changed since 911 and is more centered on religious extremism not less. Before 911 I thought all religions were basically harmless. If people wanted to believe this or that, it was okay as most people won’t take action in the name of religion. After 911 it has become obvious I realized that belief in a faith can be dangerous. Once a person can believe that an afterlife exists, he can be convinced to do anything. Belief in absurdities leads to atrocities. I believe that you would agree that, all faiths except your own, seem like absurd and dangerous delusions of the mind that begin with group indoctrination from childhood. Rarely is a person’s belief not aligned with his parents and the people around him.

You mentioned climate change, this is a good example of the disharmony between science and theology. The science is there, the facts speak for themselves. It is a fact that humans have and will continue to effect the planet in a major way. Theology is leading the denial. Why? Science and technology can solve the problem and build a better world in the process. Solar, wind, alternative energy, innovations in power grids. There is so much science and technology can do. But who is obstructing and why?

Science and reason can move us forward, theology can’t. Belief in a faith can be harmful to us all.


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(Patrick ) #7

Theology (and philosophy) were the only human thought endeavors in societies and cultures around the world for millenniums . In each culture, its own theology came to dominant that society. Science arose slowly and theology has tried to squelch its conclusions from Galileo to Darwin and into today. It is only now there are movements to “harmonize science and theology”. The religious premises of Newton, Boyle are irrelevant. What is enduring is the science that Newton and Boyle gave us. The history of science has away been on its own path in spite of theology. I wonder how much sooner a Galileo or a Darwin would have appeared if there wasn’t the obstruction of human thought from theology.

We now live in a rapidly changing scientific world. Is theology even relevant today? I would say yes but in a dangerous way. Increasingly the moral high ground is coming from science and reason than from theology. Just like the ether of electromagnet wave propagation, humans don’t need metaphysical beliefs to lead purposeful and meaningful lives with morals and values that they define.


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(Patrick ) #9

I have no interest or desire to do religious studies. I find it very boring. My interests are in new science discoveries and how I can integrate these new findings in living a meaningful and purposeful life. Biologos is very good at explaining the latest in genetic facts and I learn a lot from them. They provide a very good study tool for anyone interested in genetics.


Science will not tell you whether life is meaningful or purposeful. That will have to come from somewhere else.

(Patrick ) #11

That’s correct, only I can tell me what my life’s purpose and meaning are. And I can change my mind everyday as my life is lived.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #12

@Patrick wrote:

“Science and reason can move us forward, theology can’t. Belief in a faith can be harmful to us all.”

Thank you for your response, however you have changed the ground for your argument. Before you said that Science was the basis for hope, but now you say that Science and Reason are the basis for hope.

Reason is the foundation of philosophy. Our Harvard Graduate student came to the conclusion based on his indepth study of life based on Reason without God that life was without hope. He demonstrated his belief with his life, so I don’t see how you can just dismiss this.

You say that people do not need metaphysical beliefs to define morals and values. However morals and values are by definition metaphysical. Morals and values are not things made of matter/energy. They are spiritual/rational or metaphysical entities.

Metaphysical means beyond the physical, such as rational and spiritual. Humans are thinking and spiritual beings because we have and need values and morals as you indicate as well as physical/natural beings. It does not follow and is false that when our physical needs are met ala Marx, our spiritual/meaning needs are too.

Many scientists blame teleology for the lack of progress in scientific development. Aristotle was the advocate of teleology, and while theology through Thomas Aquinas did align itself with Aristotle, theology is not Aristotlism.

You are right, belief in faith is harmful to everyone. However, Christianity is not belief in faith. Christianity is belief in God as revealed through the birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. Christianity is not belief in the Church. It is not belief in the Bible. It is faith in Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity.

Now you say that Science and Reason are the sole reasons for hope for humankind. You have some reasons for this hope, however since none of us can claim to know the future, you do not know if that hope is real. It is based on belief or faith rather than knowledge. You might think that this is a reasonable faith based on evidence3, just as I think that my faith is a reasonable faith based on evidence, but still it is faith, rather than knowledge.

Faith in any human institution is questionable. Communists put their faith in the communist state. Capitalists put their faith in the capitalist economic system, Islamists put their faith in Sharia law. Scientism puts its faith in science. Humanists put their faith in humans. Some christians put their faith in the church, in their theology, in their morality.

No human institution is perfect and thus deserves our faith. Only God does.

Christians do not have faith in faith. Nor do we have faith in science. We have faith in God Who is the Source of the universe and thus good science, and is Jesus Christ Who is the Source of good theology. This is why science and theology should and need to work together for the Truth and the benefit of all.


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(Patrick ) #14

Even though I find religious studies boring, I have studied most of the world’s major religion and a few of the smaller, more ancient ones. I really don’t talk about it much. I used to like baseball a lot more when I was younger but don’t follow it much now. My interests and tastes change.

My professional interests lies in technology, always has. I am fairly well versed in the current cosmological physics, evolution, genetics, earth science paleontology, The use of DNA to trace human migration is fascinating to me. To find out that all non-subsuharan African people have 1-2 percent Neanderthal and Denosivan genes was amazing. I read all the Planck Satellite 2015 results papers and am amazed at the precision of cosmological parameters like the age of the universe of 13.813 billion years old ± 21 million years.

Regarding climate changes, yes the planet is warming and yes humans have something to do with it. Solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources makes sense.

I don’t see religion helping people. Mostly it seems to be a hindrance to be overcome in people’s lives. I see that mostly when young people indoctrinated in one faith or another comes to a university. It seems like the rug gets pulled from under them in their first science class.

I come here only for the science (mostly genetics) discussions. But the discussions always move away for discussions of the science into religious dogma discussions.

What are your interests?


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(Patrick ) #16

Thanks tell me about you background. We are more similar than you might think. I grow up in New Jersey of the 1960 and 1970’s. Everybody was Catholic except a few people who didn’t put up Christmas lights. I went to Catholic Grammar School with Nuns who really tried to educate me on Catholic catechism of the late 1960’s. But it didn’t stick. I always remember being skeptical. When something didn’t make sense to my developing mind, I didn’t accept it as true. I remember laughing to myself when I heard biblical stories. I was a nice polite student who would smile yet not believe one word the Nuns were saying. Then in High School my mind clicked on Math and Science. Calculus, Advanced Biology, Physics, Carl Sagan’s billion and billions. University followed - Bachelor, Masters, PhD in electrical engineering, research career. Science and Technology full speed ahead. Religion was harmless. Married in a Catholic Church, even sent my children to CCD class (but not to Catholic School as low educational value). So I was a cultural catholic for 50 years. Then 911, terrorism, ISIS, IEDs all in the name of religion, but not my religion, Catholics are good people. Then Priest Child abuse scandal, opposition to SSM, Birth Control, Free Choice and those YECs. Even my religion is not harmless. Dawkins God Delusion, Christoher Hickens, Dave DeM, FFRF. It all came together. I continue to have a meaningful and purposeful life without the dogma. So what is really important to me now? Letting kids grow up free from needless indoctrination. Teach them all the sciences and all the philosophies of the past. Let them grow up and do great things. I really am optimistic about the future. Maybe I can live long enough to see some of its wonders.


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(Patrick ) #18

Thanks. I am not very anti-Catholic. I still consider them pretty harmless in their positions. Most Catholics are "cultural Catholics - go to church Christmas and Easter, and pretty much do what they want to do despite official church doctrine. The YECs really are annoying and can be harmful to little kids if their parents or grandparents think that what they preach is remotely true. These kids are really lied to and when they get to high school level (if their not home school) are so messed up science wise, it will be a struggle to understand real science education.

You mentioned Tyson. I think he did a great job on Cosmos. It was real touching how he handled the Sagan connection. The science was clear and very factual. I liked it and watched every episode. Do you think it was indoctrinary? I thought it was the opposite and highlighted to kids to follow their own paths.

I read Popluar Science as a kid and even did some of the projects especially the electronic projects.
But a key to my education was when a biology teacher suggest Scientific American and just try each month to read it. I have done this for 40 years now. What do you think of SA?

I don’t understand what you call metaphysics. I don’t think it exists. What is it?

I don’t think of Dawkins, Krause and others as religious. If all religions were channels on a TV, atheism would be “off”. Dawkins is a great writer and speaker. I read Selfish Gene thirty years ago and found it enlightening. The God Delusion was a real stick in the eye to Western Christianity.

Ken Ham is just a businessman who wants to make money shoveling absurdities to older people who want to keep their old ideas of the world. Have you ever noticed that AIG gears it’s marketing to grandparents? They want them to buy juvenile science books for their grandchildren and to take their grandchildren to see a very attractive Eve with a handsome Adam in a beautiful garden with a vegetarian T-rex.

I have read C.S. Lewis and found him to be quite moderate.

I don’t agree with you about “the New Atheist leaders” It sort of reminds me of claims of “Christian Prosecution” when somebody says “show me evidence of your claims” Ridiculing religion is fair game today but most Christians aren’t use to it as it wasn’t polite years ago. I still find it hard to be impolite. The other day, I passed a young priest in a restaurant. I almost said, “good morning Father” I didn’t but I just smiled and laughed to myself.


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(Patrick ) #20

oh my, sorry I asked. :blush: my head is going to explode but only metaphysically :wink:
Ok lets just discuss just your first sentence: “metaphysics refers to the ultimate constituents of reality.” I thought that was physics.

Can we separate everything into two bins: In one bin we put all the matter (including dark), radiations, energy (including dark), and spacetime of the entire universe, what goes into the other bin?